Public Safety and the police

We are deeply concerned about public safety as we work to change the way it is delivered. The slogan “Defund the police” was created in the heat of the moment, and unfortunately it has been misunderstood and misused by many. What we know is that the old system did not provide safety to many, I would say most of our citizens. The problem is not primarily due to bad police officers. There will be all sorts of people in any organization. The problem has been that it has been impossible to deal with the racists and lazy police officers due to the system that has been developed through years of civil service arbitrations and collective bargaining agreements.

We will develop a list of shared values, that any armed employee or employee with power over our citizens must share. This would include acceptance of a diversity of races, citizenship status, language, gender or sexual orientation, housing status, religion. These employees should accept that violence is not a first choice, and we need people trained in conflict resolution and mental health management. This should be understood as essential to the mission of the Minneapolis Police. It should be included in the oath all police officers take, and incorporated into the discipline policy.

This change of culture could be possibly if the MPD administration was consistent with it discipline. In conjunction with a change in the Use of Force policy the MPD could do a discipline “reset” with clear expectations. Then it would be necessary for all supervisors to discipline all violations of police mistreating citizens, either verbally or physically. Any supervisor that does not apply this discipline, must be disciplined. With this consistency, the major reason for our arbitration losses would evaporate. A culture change can happen, but it takes the will to carry it out.

Can we be part of the transformation to a society where Black Lives really do Matter, and police serves all citizens instead of controls them? I believe that together we can.

We should look at the research cone by CUAPB when implementing reforms.

There are a few things that I believe.

*Police do not primarily prevent crime. Mostly they investigate after a crime has been committed. The entire criminal justice system, including the judiciary and the ways people are incarcerated, is unfair and does not help our community or the offenders. It is based too much on punishment instead of intervention, rehabilitation and mediation.

*In order to deter crime, we would need to have a policeman on every corner. Besides the cost, this would create a police state that is anathema to a free society.

*Fear of punishment does not, in the main, deter crime.

*The mission of the police is public safety. They are not focused on, nor are they being successful at completing this mission.

*The system of racial oppression has permeated the police departments. Their original purpose as militias to capture runaway slaves and Native people who would not submit to assimilation or reservations, still survives in our military and our police departments.

*A major result/barrier is lack of trust. The citizenry does not trust the police, and the police do not trust the citizens. This results in lack of cooperation. We are reluctant to help the police by providing information and assistance, and the police are reluctant to engage with citizens. Right now the police are so afraid of an ambush that they only go out in groups. This degrades response and is a waste of professional resources.

*I do think we need to start over. Minneapolis can be a national leader if we can listen to each other and trust the motivations of our leaders.

*Our leaders have not earned that trust. This is an historic moment and in such moments regular people can rise up and do extraordinary things. We need to call upon the City Council, the county board, and the legislative delegation to be extraordinary. This requires leadership—calm, experienced, listening, wise leadership. The mayor’s office could be part of that. It isn’t now.

“I want police to give out masks instead of tickets,” Governor Walz said when responding to a question about enforcement of his mask mandate.